Qantas Responds to ACTU Comments

Sydney, 21 May 2008

Qantas said today the ACTU response to the dispute with the Australian Licensed Engineers Association (ALAEA) fundamentally misrepresented industrial relations at Qantas.

The Chief Executive of Qantas, Mr Geoff Dixon, said Qantas offered fair pay and conditions, which were the best in the Australian airline business and, importantly, among the most secure in world aviation.

"Growth and stability are indisputably of greater benefit to Qantas employees than any short-sighted attempt to break the Group wages policy," he said.

"Day in and day out, Qantas competes head-on with global airlines that can source lower cost alternatives, including staff. Anyone who believes we can continue to succeed and grow employment outside our current wages policy is not facing up to commercial reality.

"The vast majority of our staff understand this and have been supportive of the measures the Board and management have put in place to protect Qantas' future.

"All of our customer service indicators tell us that our standards remain high, which is a result of the professionalism and commitment of our staff.

"Over 90 per cent of our staff are covered by collective agreements. All our collective agreements, including those struck in the last 12 months, have locked in the three per cent wages policy."

Mr Dixon said the ALAEA had also reached agreement in January but had since reneged on the agreement.

"Qantas will not put the future growth and success of this business at risk with a knee-jerk response to demands driven by one union."

Mr Dixon said the facts behind the current ALAEA dispute were that:

* Qantas provided wage increases of 3 per cent every year, plus a minimum of 10 per cent employer superannuation contribution (1 per cent more than most employers);

* Qantas' remuneration policy could provide employees with bonus payments and/or employee shares when company targets were met. Each LAME received $2,000 on top of their 3 per cent wage increase last September - the equivalent to a further wage increase of just under 2 per cent; and

* the incremental cost of the ALAEA claim (over the agreement reached in January) would, when it flowed to other employees, add $360 million to the Qantas wages bill over the next three years.

"Our wages offer has underpinned the creation of 6,000 new jobs and our multi-billion dollar investment in new aircraft and product - a record that stands in stark contrast to the boom and bust approach that has characterised global aviation," Mr Dixon said.

"The escalating cost of fuel - an extra $1.5 billion in the case of Qantas - means that many airlines will lose money in 2008/2009, which will put major pressure on Qantas' operations. This is hardly the time to break with a policy that has worked well for all parties."

Issued by Qantas Corporate Communication (3764)